Jazz Studies

As one of the first free-standing jazz studies departments in the nation, the USC Thornton School was a pioneer in the development of an academic curriculum dedicated to the one true American musical art form. With a world-renowned faculty, the Jazz Studies department prepares young musicians for success in today’s ever-changing music industry. Alumni and recent graduates have assumed prominent roles in both jazz and popular music across the globe. The USC Thornton Jazz Studies department consistently ranks as one of the top jazz programs in the world in jazz periodicals.

Jazz student playing saxophone with illustration of music notes.

Undergraduate Programs

Bachelor of Music

Jazz Studies (instrumental and vocal)

4 years | 132 units

The BM in Jazz Studies is a four-year, 132-unit program, consisting of courses in the major, including individual instruction, theory, history, ensembles, and related topics, coupled with the University’s general education and writing programs. The program culminates with a senior recital.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Graduate & Doctoral Programs

Master of Music

Jazz Studies

2 years | 30 units

The MM in Jazz Studies is a two-year, 30-unit program, focusing on individual jazz instruction, jazz composition, jazz pedagogy, jazz ensemble development, and ensembles, coupled with traditional music history. Two graduate recitals are required.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Doctor of Musical Arts 

Jazz Studies

65 units

The DMA in jazz studies requires a minimum of 65 units beyond the bachelor’s degree and consists of the following areas of study: the basic DMA curriculum, course work in the major, an academic field and two elective fields. Four doctoral recitals are required.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Graduate Certificate

Graduate Certificate

Jazz Studies

2 years | 16 units

The Graduate Certificate in performance is a two-year, 16-unit program consisting of individual instruction, studio class, and two ensembles, or the equivalent thereof, each semester. This graduate-level program is designed for students who have completed their undergraduate education in music, or its equivalent, and intend to concentrate their energies on the full-time development of their discipline.

Refer to the USC Catalogue for complete course descriptions and degree requirements here.

Minors & Electives

Minor in Jazz Studies


21 units

The Jazz Studies minor is for students who already play jazz and want to continue to expand their musical experience. Through jazz improvisation, theory, and history classes, as well as private lessons and ensembles, students will gain the tools necessary to perform at a high level.

A Letter from Bob Mintzer

“Rather than having all the answers, we pose the questions that inspire students to learn for themselves and develop a musical personality steeped in passion and focus.”

Bob Mintzer
USC Thornton Faculty Member

Contact

Jason Goldman, Chair
Jullanar Gamboa, Department Coordinator

Department of Jazz Studies
USC Thornton School of Music
Los Angeles, California 90089-0851
(213) 740-3224
contemporary.music@usc.edu